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tv   MSNBC News Live  MSNBC  February 8, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm EST

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to update you on breaking news on a fire. a chemical plant in mont belvieu texas. this is just east of houston. so far no reports of injuries. one person unaccounted for. there are reports that the black smoke -- you can see it on the left-hand side of your screen -- has been seen up to 35 miles away in downtown houston. it's a salt dome location where they store more hydrocarbons than anywhere else in the world. they say one person is unaccounted for after this fire ripped through this chemical plant. people are saying that they can see that thick black smoke coming toward the city. of course, we're going to keep an eye on this story and we'll keep you updated. as we get more information, i'll bring it to you at this hour. so we begin at the train station literally. have you taken a train lately or the better question is would you take a train if it were convenient and cost-effective
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for you? with bridges running through crumbling brilks, vice president joe biden introduced the plan for a new high speed railway. >> that means they're going to produce cleaner air, create skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced and fundamentally increase productivity. this is going to require the same type of vision and ambition that led us to develop our interstate highway system more than a half century ago. >> msnbc political analyst richard wolffe joins me from the white house. it's very aggressive. so can it be done? >> reporter: that is every part of this question. the president and vice president love high-speed rail. theyn't wad do it with the first
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recovery act, the stimulus. they want to do it when they have billions of dollar. in the end they have $8 billion. it's a lot of money to me and you, but not far for the net woncht this is on top of the money they've already spent, but it's actually 25-year plan and the problem they had all along is trying to get the land that would allow them to build the high-speed plachblt it's difficult legally to pull off. >> the plan calling for $8 billion for the coming year. this is on top of the 10.5 billion spent as part of the recovery act. the overall total figure is $253 billion. you say it's not a lot to put a dent into things so figuring that this is such an aggressive plan that goes over all these jurisdictions that you said, is $53 billion a realistic number to achieve this. >> what's realistic or
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unrealistic is how they intend to spend this money and pay for it. when reporters asked robert gibbs, he said we'll find out when it's leads. proposed infrastructure spending maybe the administration's way of winning the international competition. but they're dealing with a house that wanted to cut funding, so matching these two things is not going to be easy. >> thanks so much. as mr. wolffe mentioned. will any of us really be alive when these trains are actually up and running? can they get this aggressive plan out for all the use? he's an expert on high-speed rate. alex, it's good to have you with us. when we hear about what richard
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is saying is coming from the white house and the plans, what's the biggest challenge lo gist particularly when it comes to building a national high-speed rail system because it sounds good. >> i think one of the problems is the period of time in order to prepare for the system has not been that long, and as a result, as richard said, with all the institutional issues is we have to address the issue in order to implement the program which in most cases is going to tan 10, 15 years to get built. >> the president pointed out that it's something both the chamber and the afl-cio agree on. take a listen. we'll talk on the other side. >> they agree. on the need to build a 21st century infrastructure, and i want to thank them to push for it. and to do so in the most
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cost-effective way possible. with tax dollars that leverage private capital and with progress not determined by politics, but by what's best for our economy. >> so alex, just one hypothetical. how many people would it take to build this high-speed rail from new york to chicago and how long if we were to, say, break ground this month? . think we're looking at certainly a 20-week program, in terms of people, it certainly takes a lot of people. so you're looking at the creation of very significant numbers of jobs in order to basically implement it. >> doesn't this fit in with the president talking about winning the future? just because the projection might be 20 years out or even longer isn't a reason not to do it. >> it's absolutely important to the economy to do it. it's very important for in particular the financial and
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services sector that high-speed ray gates build. it's also important for those across the country who left their service once we deregulated air and essentially many small cities lost the ability to communicate with the big cities september by auto and now auto is increasing in terms of oil and gas, so we really need a new millimeter to help each community to develop its sector. >> what's old might be new again. thanks for coming on. we appreciate your time. democrats in growing numbers are leaving the party in the rear view mirror, so to speak, as they vote for the gop. consider the case of ashley bell. spoke at the 2004 convection. he decided to jump ship.
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since november no fewer than 24 state senators and relatives in five southern states have defected to become. s. ashley bell is now a republican hall county dikt transfer. he joins me from atlanta. ashley, it's great to see you. break it down for u us. why did you leave the democratic party? what was at the base of this decision? >> i tell you. you watch "morning joe" every day with joe scarborough, what else can you do? no, seriously. i've taken a long time to thing about this. my family and i have been thinking about this for a year. when you look at being a conservative in the south and a look at where the national parties was going, it's really naufrmt ask growing up, being a
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democratic party, you would do that. >> also if i know the people at "morning joe," the smart people, joe, mika, chris, you probably made their show for tomorrow morning. >> under president obama, the bush cuts, they're down to a low. the stock market is up, you know, 12,000 once again. the president escalated the war in afghanistan, he cut corporate tax rates, kept guantanamo open, didn't push, now promises cut taxes even more, fewer regulations for businesses. i could go on and on. wouldn't this be the definition of a fairly conservative. >> now the people have spoken. the republican party has taken the house, and what other option is there because there's no bill that's going to come out of the united states congress on the house side that won't be
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fiscally conservative, that won't be responsible in taking care of our debt and obligations. so if that's the case, the president is definitely understanding he's dealing with a congress that's not going to allow wreck else spending any nr. >> why did you think you were a democrat to begin with, then? >> let me tell you. a lot has been made about being a democrat growing up in the south. no matter what color you were, democrats were everywhere in the south. i go to college, i come back, and everybody's republican. i stayed a democrat, ran as a democrat. but the reality was i wuls always conservative it. looked at the issues of how can we relieve the burden of everyday people and get government out of the way. i always felt that way. the problem is the democratic party decided to become a more liberal party.
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they only used conservative democrats and blue dogs to gain majorities and then force issues like the health care package and stimulus package. you see what happens. they all got sent home. if you're going to be a conservative, you want to be with a party that votes the same way. ashley bell, continued success with your political career. a tough economy has forced workers out of a job and many are returning to school hoping to get new skills to get back into the workforce. four colleges have claimed the call. to more than 1.8 million students in 2008. but the government says the time and the investment is not playing arkansas offer, leaving many with big debt and false
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diplomas. walter, it's great article this week about for-profit colleges. are there students of these colleges, the for-profit students, basically getting ripped off by these institutions that are promises something oat on the better side? >> that's what the critics would tell you, that indeed that's what they are telling you part of the problem is they want to get customers so they're obviously putting best spin they can on their skoll. come back to school, get a career, move forward, et cetera. i don't know that these students always know what they're getting into, especially in terms of the debt they're accumulating. if they get out and don't get a job right away or they get a low-paying job, that have big student loan bills and that's a
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rezpy for trouble. >> explain to us some of the findings. >> well, the government accountability office did an undercover survey late last summer. they went undercover to 15 of the largest colleges and they basically went into admissions offices and heard the pitches that were being sold. there were infractions at all 156789 some were quite egregious. one for example at a small beauty college the undercover student was told a barber could make $150,000 to $200,000 a year. that's great if you can get it, but the stats show they make less than $40,000 a year. so obviously a lot of admissions reps are try dog whatever they can to get people in the door and in some case crossing the line, krcritics would say.
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>> yeah, that's selling a lot of hope to make up the $250,000 a year when the reality is they don't make that much money. walter, real quickly, though, what should students look out for? >> well, mine the first thing to do is make sure you understand what you're getting into. research both the college that you're going to, talk to some of the former graduates in the school, research the industry you want to go into, do they need a degree, hire from this college, et cetera. understand fully how much you're borrow oing. those are some of the most basic things people should be on the outlook for. >> and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. >> it probably is. >> walter hamilton with the "los angeles times." should you put your money in a bank in china? >> we're going to answer that for you. and congresswoman giffords, who handles the work while she is recovering?
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welcome back, everybody. some branches of banks in china are offering something unique for americans. what would it yield for the average american out there? our next guest spotted the opportunity, went to the bank and checked it out and wrote a great article on this. zachary karabell wrote about this in "time magazine." did it strike you as odd that they were making this opportunity available to you? >> it definitely struck me as odd that a american could open an aaccount with a kur ebbcy account for a currency that you cannot use, trade, or withdraw.
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>> what's the pitch there? where is this advertised so that people are becoming aware of it? >> the bank of china did a press release and said you can do this. again, you can only do it at three branches. you can walk in, give them a minimum of # $500 and they give you an rmb, chinese currency account. it sits there like a savings account, but not a savings account. >> so it's like a -- i mean how do you -- can you access it? can you pay bills online? is it just there to get interest? >> this is the great thing with this account. you can do nothing with this account except if the currency goes up in price, the domestic kmie sneeze economy becomes more vibrant. they give you a knew mall call account and if that currency rises your dollar account goes
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up. so let's say it goes up 3%, 4%, 5%. you get 5% on your account, but you can't do anything with the account you. can't go to china and use chinese currency, you can't have a debit card and spend money. you can do absolutely nothing with this account except hope that it goes up in value as the chinese currency goes up. >> and how popular is this becoming? >> that's a hard one to say. no matter how hard you ask, they say it's popular. it's not exactly lines around the corner, but think about it. a savings account for the average american yields nothing. this is a way of parting with your money and weirdly enough it's fdic insured. and if it does go up, it will yield you considerably more than your savings account. >> when we talki about the fact
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that there's only three banks that this is be done is this like the test balloon? >> i think you're totally right to call it a test balloon because chinese government is very into doing these odd experiments. the change here is not weather you can open a bank account in omaha. it's how much convertibility is that currency going to have as a global currency that's going to be an alternative to or in addition toll the dollar. >> the oracle of omaha. >> that's right. warren buffett is opening an account, that will be the time. >> thanks for coming in. up next, more violence on the mexican border to talk about, this time an american teen caught in the crossfire. and the other stories topping the news right now. we're back after this. ♪ you don't know [ male announcer ] you know her. ♪ hey, what you do to me
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wind gusts up to 32 miles an hour are fueling this fire. the fire has been burning out of control for hours now. fire crews haven't reported injuries, but one person remains unaccounted for. also in the news now, the u.s. army confirms that staff sergeant sal juwill not reenlis. he had been keeping his options open, but he says last week he decided to use his g.i. benefits to get his undergraduate yacht degree. today there's new information on the teenaged shooting deaths. they were american citizens who reportedly crossed the border to go to a party friday night. all three were killed at a car
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tlerp. the boys had planned on buying a used car. no word yet on a suspect or motive. coming up what president obama is proposing to get people back to work. and chase smith, otherwise known as rhymefest, we're going to catch up with him with the grio 100 and what he's woefully up to now. it has the cold-fighting power of an effervescent packed in a liquid-gel for all over relief! hiyah! dude! with listerine® whitening plus restoring rinse. it's the only listerine® that gets teeth two shades whiter and makes tooth enamel two times stronger. get dual-action listerine® whitening rinse. building whiter, stronger teeth. nah. we have something else. but if you're hurt and miss work does it pay cash like aflac does? nah. or let you spend it in any way you want
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to answer questions about her health. now mary gets 3 refills in one and for 3 months, she's done. more or less. ask your pharmacist about a 90 day supply and get a free gift. walgreens. there's a way to stay well. welcome back, everybody. congresswoman gabby giffords continues to recover at a rehab facility after being shot through the brain last month. despite being called a miraculous recovery so far there are large professional questions about whether or not giffords will be able to ever return to her seat in congress. her husband mark kelly has resumed training for an upcoming shuttle mission, but the road back for his wife is going to be much harder and longer. david, it's great to see you. explain the rules to all of us as it regards a member of
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congress being incapacitated for an extended period of time as is the case with gabby giffords? >> that's simple. there aren't any rules because this has been left very open. it's very sympathetic to the problems anyone's having as they go, for example, into a coma or having a medical problem. this happens quite frequently in the u.s. senate where somebody be l be ill and unable to vote for a few months. somebody will be frankly senile at the end of their career. there's no mechanism for getting them out of there. either the family says they want to pull them out or they stay in the senate until they -- as long as everyone else wants them too. >> you talk about the fact this has happened before. give us a historical event on what constituents have had to deal with if this has happened before about their voices being heard in washington, d.c. as you say, understandably there's a sympathetic tone to
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situation being taken, but when it comes to the work of the con cities yenlts, how does it get done? >> reporter: these are not like every job on the planet right now. in congress you have a very large staff that's able to do most of the work for you. they do constituency service third quarter do meetings. giffor giffords' staff has been working hard and doing what they can. in a situation like this which is happily very rare have a lot of sympathy for what their representative is going through. it's, again, extremely rare for somebody to be extremely incapacitated and pulled out. in 1980 a congressman in maryland had a heart attack, won an election, but her family decided it was better for her to go out. the norm is to stick in there as long as everyone's comfortable with it. the work goes unabated. it's something that people deal with as they look for updates on
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what's happening. >> dave, do we expect or anticipate when key votes come up that the tone on this issue may change? >> well, not to be too grim about it, but because there's a larger republican majority in the house this isn't a vote that was counted or if many things. this is a vote that -- you know, it was -- that democrats are not counting. the chair, which you remember, was empty. the state of the europe onis going to stay empty. when the topic was broached a couple of weeks ago in the house arms services committee, loretta sanchez behind closed doors said it might be time to take away the seat because she wasn't used it. there was no stomach for that. it died as soon as she suggested it. this is the status quo. they're going to leave the seat open quite literally speaking until she recovers and if she does not recover to the point
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where she can serve in congress, they'll deal with that very far down the horizon. egypt's government is now offering a string of concessi s concessions, but maintained a hold on power. protesters are still camped out in the central square. but some behaviors and businesses reopened after a weak of closures and demonstrations that we saw turn violent. ron, it's at 10:00 at night, 10:32 to be exact. what's the day like in the square as you observed it? >> reporter: well, thomas, we spent some time in the square. the protesters -- i dmoemt if they got to that number, but it was hundreds of thousands of people and it was a bigger gathering than the normal day. they targeted tuesdays and fridays to try to get big crowds out because they know they can't
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maintain the same level of intensity through a seven-day week. we're now day 15 of this and they're trying to outlast the government by keeping a presence in the square. it's somewhat become a test of wills here because the government really isn't backing down in the sense that the president is not going anywhere. at the same time the vice president has take and much higher profile and every day there seems to be a new list of concessions or what they're saying are concessions they're willing to make if the protesters back off and concessions they say they're making on a road to a transmission. the question is neither side believes each other. they've been adamant that the government, the president must step down. some opposition leaders do not want to begin serious talks until he is gone. so you have a situation here where in the square there is this constant energetic determined presence and i think it's going to be there indefinitely and the government
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that is trying to bring the opposition. it's unclear how many people really believe that. and the other dimension that's happening here is, yes, life is returning to a new state of normalcy. banks are opening for some time. schools are opening next week. when you walk around central cairo, it's its bustling self again. there's traffic conjection. people want to get on with their lives, but no one knows what each new day is going to bring. in some ways it's a surreal existence here. nobody knows exactly what it's going to be, yet the protesters are daerled to keep the pressure on the government, to bring about the fundamental change that they're so determined to bring about here. >> ron alan in cairo. thanks so much. when the president releases his budget next week he plans to offer state suffering high unemployment relief. to the tune of $42 billion.
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the white house proposal would put a moratorium state tax, increases and interest payments this year and next, but it would be offset in 2014 with a an increase in the taxable income level for benefits. luke russert is live on chiapit hill. what kind of reaction is it getting on capitol hill? >> reporter: as you know they're getting a lot. they're saying, look, you owe us a ton of money for all the unemployment benefits we even about dolled out on your behalf. we'll give you two years, a two-year freeze on any interest payments you owe us as well as a two-year freeze on any new taxes on employers to give you some relief so you don't have to pay that money to us in the next two years as we get out of this economic recession. in exchange for that, in 2014, the amount of talks income that will then be amilk tobl be taxed on a payroll will be the -- not
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only the first $7,000 which it is now, would go up to the first $15,000. why is that? states wot not have to raise their own income income tax or sales tax to try to meet the budget deficit. it would fall on employers who would have to pay a higher payroll tax. they would say, no, i rads taxes. no, no, no. they were slim dealing with what the federal government did, which was put a raise on the amount of taxable income on this unemployment. that's why a lot of stakes are warming up to the idea because it is quite politically viable, thomas. let me put up this response to the idea that was issued by spokesman for house speaker john boehner. it says, quote, rather than doubling down on his job-crushing agenda, the president should work with republicans to reduce economic uncertainty and create jobs by
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cutting spending and preventing any new tax hikes. so is this something that has to pass congress, or can the white house do it unilaterally? >> no, it would have to pass through congress, which means it would have to pass through the republican house and as you saw the statement from the speaker's office, they're not too reseptemberive. why? they think any increase on the pal roll tax from $7,000 to $15,000 to over a course of time add ore $100 billion in tacks on employers, small businesses, they say. the best chance this has of passing is if there are enough red state governments who say, look, we desperately need the help that this compromise gives us, we would desperately need to go on with it. then maybe the speaker and the republican leadership in the house would feel some pressure. right now they're unified saying this is a no go in the house of representatives. >> nbc's luke russert.
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thanks. a well known chicago rapper is using his popularity to make big change. nbc's digital correspondent joins us. we know his name. chase smith. he easton grio 100 website. >> he is indeed. he's a successful hip-hop producer and artist. he's putting his music career on hold right now to take a go at politics. he's running for city council in his native chicago to see if he can make a difference. political newcomer shay smith is one of four candidates running for council. while he's meeting many voters for the first time -- the music world knows him well. smith also goes by rhymefest.
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the 33-year-old rapper, known for his conscious style of hip-hop has released two albums and has worked with some of hip-hop's biggest stars. winning the grammy for "jesus walks" with kanye west. but these days the self-described raptivicst wants to put his. the 20th ward on chicago's south side are the economically oppressed. >> what are the issues? >> safety, education, and jobs. however, we can't talk about those two or three issues. we need a whole system solution for a whole system problem. >> reporter: he set up his base
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in a car detailing shop. the married father of two admits his political resume is slim. in 2009 he testified about performance of artists' rights. in 2006 he spoke with david cameron to talk about capitalism and he volunteers as a mentor for local kids, but he says what lacks for with kids he makes up for. >> i am able to be seen as an entrepreneur. i think that's what's most missing and that's what i can bring to the table. >> reporter: the chicago times has endorsed his fellow opponent. if it goes his way, smith is ready for the challenge. >> i want to start at the local level where we can affect people's lives the most.
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there's been a lack of love. there's been a lack of appropriate planner and a lack of vision. >> reporter: a vision for his community and a new future of his own. now, smith said he's not done with music by any means and is already thinking about his next album. he's just taking a break to pursue the city council position. in case you're wondering, we'll see that if endorsement helps him. >> i like the name raptivist. >> his name, not ourselves. >> chicago on a good day is cold, so it was chilly. >> you did good. you can go to question for you. have you ever experienced anxiety. you know, your heart speeds up, palms start to sweat, stomachs all in doubt. what if i told you some actually
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enjoy that feeling. new research shows many love the feeling. it's proven to bft performance. can this be good for your overall health. here to discuss the straight phenomenon, associate professor of mount sinai school of medicine. it geesd to have you with us. i want to start right away with the definition of anxiety. is the painful or app hennive uneasiness of mind other impending ill. >> you know, it's very interesting. at times people don't necessarily like anxiety. but they feel comfortable with anxiety because that's what they've become accustomed to. casey swartz who wrote that in her article noted that there are
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transmitter chemicals that are very different that account for whether somebody likes anxiety or desires anxiety. sometimes familiarity is the best thing. >> again, this study is finding some people, this anxious state of mind helps to boost their cognitive reasoning and performance. is that possible because i would think it would be the possible. if you're stressed out. you're likely to be scatter brained and gnut think quickly. >> there are a lot of things to prepare for a test. if you're anxious, you may prepare for a test. again, if that's your normal baseline state, anxiety, then that's the state you want to be in. also people have tendency to be more alert. remember, cognition is thought and when we're thinking about a
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particular test and we feel more anxious we may focus more on this fact that it's got to get with. too much anxiety, yes. a little bit of anxiety, not too pad. >> so keep you on your toes. stress is proven to be unhealthy and causes heart attacks and acne. does it still have the same type of eventses on that that talks about whether people who suspect anxiety and try to explain anxiety as their norm may not have the same effects. that's something they're going to have to wait and find it. i would assume those who are used to it maub will not have the dill tair effect. >> it's a fascinating study and
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it's great to have you in to talk with us. appreciate your time. tareq care. we'll be back, everybody. stay with us. this is msnbc. this tailgate needs some love ! guy ! guy ! check t my ritz cheese steak sliders. get more of my rockin' ritz game day recipes on facebook. but you can still refinance to a fixed rate as low as 4.5%
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you know, teens are calling it urban surfing, but it's not only against the law, but deadly. and in the recent case the stunt ended in a vehicular homicide. kerry sanders is on the road in florida to fill us in on this. kerry, good afternoon. >> reporter: it is dafrmgs and obscure except for among teenagers and kids in their tos where it's really all the rage. and what it is is somebody gets in a car like this and they get behind the wheel and they begin to drive. they're going 20, 30, 40 miles an hour. while they're driving along,
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somebody else in the car climbs out, gets on the roof, and stands up as if they're surfing on the car. it's a fearless gamble, car surfing. and the videos of those youths climbing on the car roofs are all over the internet. in some cases they surf their own cars, which is called ghost riding. and as the videos reveal it is not uncommon to see the surfing end in an accident. sometimes car surfers grab the bumper or door handle and surf the car's imagine naj wags on a skateboard or even in a shopping card. 18-year-old cameron bieberly jumped in the back of the cart. as the car went faster and faster they approached a speed bump.
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when the shopping cart hit. he flew 27 feet in the air, landed on his head and died. >> it feels like hell on earth. >> they say they had no idea what their son was doing until it was too late. >> he made a poor decision to get in that cart. once situation. >> at the time of the accident the driver, michael smith, was 23 years old. this month, two and a half years after cameron's death, an orlando jewelry convicted him of vehicular homicide. smith was sentenced to four years in prison. >> so if they are driving the car thinking if something bad goes on, it's not going to be me. it's my buddy. >> both parties are going to pay a dear price. >> where did the idea for this come from? cameron's parents think he saw it in the movie jackass."
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they are investigating more accidents. just last week two teens died in deberry, florida. >> do you know what car surfing is? >> yes. >> which is why they are on a mission to warn other families. cameron's death ruined what both say was an otherwise perfect american family. two children, two dogs, a turtle and a rabbit. >> we're separated and getting divorced. >> would you blame it on this incident? >> absolutely. >> i don't think it would have happened if cameron hadn't died. >> they say throughout all of this, the reason they have decided to speak out is they do not want another family member, any other family, to go through the pain they are now suffering. >> it's real easy to understand. kerry sanders in wellington, florida. kerry, thanks very much. appreciate it. feds released the findings in
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the toyota investigation. that's what's topping the news that and more for you coming up next. this is msnbc. whether you're trying to sell of hoping to buy. nobody sells more real estate than re/max. visit today. to finish what you started today. for the aches and sleeplessness in between, there's motrin pm. no other medicine, not even advil pm, is more effective for pain and sleeplessness. motrin pm. is more effective for pain and sleeplessness.
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welcome back, everybody. there are some nuances on toyota recalls and that tops the news for us now. in a report out today the feds fund no electronic flaws caused the acceleration glitch so the sticking accelerator and floor mat problems are officially the cause. the transportation report caps a 10-month investigation into as many as 89 crash deaths involving toyota and lexus vehicles. the haitian government has issued former president jean bertrand aristide a passport. this paves the way for a second round of elections scheduled in march. aristide has been in exile in africa following the 2004 rebellion that forced him out of power. all right, everybody. that's our show. appreciate your time. don't go anywhere. "the dylan ratigan show" is
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common side effects include nausea, trouble sleeping and unusual dreams. ♪ my benjamin, he helped me with the countdown. "ben, how many days has it been?" "5 days, mom. 10 days, mom." i think after 30 days he got tired of counting. [ male announcer ] it's a new year. so, ask your doctor about chantix. and find out how you could save money on your prescription go to to learn more and get terms and conditions. and find out how you could save money on your prescription ♪♪ a flavor paradises aof delicious fishes ♪♪ ♪ friskies seafood sensations. ♪ feed the senses.
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good afternoon to you. my name is dylan rhatigan. today, democracy hypocrisy. is our own government backpedaling to immediate change in egypt, change that is launched against a 30-year dictator supported by $30 billion of our money. you can see the conflict on the democracy front. what exactly are we committed to in this country? plus fighting the culture wars all over again, the new battle over abortion funding comes to capitol hill. goodness, a rig trade, tax


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